EAGAN, Minn. — The public window of 2022 Vikings Training Camp practices at Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center will open July 30 with Back Together Saturday.
To get you ready for the return of football, we'll go through a position-by-position preview of the Vikings that began yesterday with quarterbacks and continues today with receivers.
Returning starters (assuming two WRs): Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen
Also on the roster (listed alphabetically by last name): Dan Chisena, Thomas Hennigan, Trishton Jackson, Bisi Johnson, Myron Mitchell, Jalen Nailor, K.J. Osborn, Blake Proehl, Ihmir Smith-Marsette and Albert Wilson
2021 recap: Jefferson started all 17 games and backed up his strong 2020 rookie season with team bests of 108 receptions, 1,616 yards and 10 touchdowns on his way to a second consecutive Pro Bowl. Thielen totaled 67 receptions for 726 yards and 10 scores, despite missing four starts and most of another game. Osborn surged in his second pro season with 50 catches for 655 yards and seven scores. Smith-Marsette is the only other returnee with receiving stats last season. He totaled five catches for 116 yards and two touchdowns as a rookie.
View the best photos of Vikings WR Justin Jefferson from the 2021 season.
1. Can Jefferson take a run at the receiving triple crown?
Jefferson has all the talent to match the accomplishment of Rams receiver Cooper Kupp last season, but will he have the opportunity? And if so, would it result from an injury elsewhere?
Kupp led the NFL with 145 receptions, 1,947 yards and 16 touchdowns with Vikings Head Coach Kevin O'Connell as the Rams offensive coordinator. He stepped up in a big way, going beyond his solid historical production to help offset the in-season loss of Robert Woods to a torn ACL.
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The Rams were able to get the ball to Kupp, and defenses knew there was a good chance the ball would go to the player who was targeted 191 times, but it still paid off.
Receiving triple crowns are incredibly rare. Kupp's trifecta was just the fourth since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger. He joined Jerry Rice (1990), Sterling Sharpe (1992) and Steve Smith, Sr. (2005).
Vikings coaches can scheme to get the ball to Jefferson, who ranked second in the NFL in receiving yards and fourth in receptions, and his touchdowns tied for sixth last season, if they want to or need to. They showed that last season in Los Angeles, including during the home stretch of Super Bowl LVI.
There's no question that Jefferson will be leaned on heavily, but the Vikings also have the proven results of Thielen and were being helped by the emergence of Osborn.
Jefferson is a team-first player, but he's also one of the NFL's most electric players to watch. His success will be a big key for the overall team's success. Happy pursuit.
2. 500 Club calling Thielen?
The list of Vikings players who recorded more than 500 receptions for the team is about as elite as it gets: Pro Football Hall of Famers Cris Carter (1,004) and Randy Moss (587).
Thielen, who grew up watching those two talents during his youth, enters his ninth accrued NFL season with 464 receptions, which ranks fifth in team history.
View the best photos of Vikings WR Adam Thielen from the 2021 season.
He needs 15 to pass Anthony Carter, 35 to top Steve Jordan and one more than that to reach the 500 Club.
Thielen has averaged 74 receptions per season since 2016, so that major milestone should be within reach.
Thielen also enters 2022 with 5,966 career receiving yards and 49 touchdown receptions. He needs 468 yards to vault all the way up to fourth past Jake Reed, Sammy White and Jordan.
The next touchdown catch for the red zone threat will tie him with White for fourth all-time. Three more after that will move Thielen past Anthony Carter for third.
3. What happens farther down the roster?
Osborn responded to an increased role after the Vikings lost TE Irv Smith, Jr., and WR Bisi Johnson to preseason knee injuries. Osborn missed a bit of the offseason program.
Johnson, who learned all of the receiving positions in the prior offense, and Smith, a mismatch factor, were able to participate in the team's offseason program.
View the best photos of Vikings WR K.J. Osborn from the 2021 season.
Smith-Marsette came on strong at the end of 2021, becoming the fourth Vikings player to record more than 100 receiving yards in his first career start. Smith-Marsette spent part of the offseason in a walking boot.
Chisena played 11 offensive snaps in 2021. Jackson spent time last offseason with the Rams but has not appeared in a regular-season game. Mitchell played one offensive snap. Hennigan was highly productive at Appalachian State and signed as an undrafted rookie.
Nailor could become the latest late-round find by the Vikings to blossom at the position. Proehl has worked his way back from a torn ACL suffered in camp last year. Wilson's addition during the offseason program injected some experience to the group. He has 218 career catches for 2,499 yards and 12 scores with the Chiefs and Dolphins.
While the Vikings know what they have in Jefferson and Thielen, the team can benefit by solidifying more weapons at the position.